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The Effects of Student Growth Data on School District Choice: Evidence from a Survey Experiment

David M. Houston, Jeffrey R. Henig

Abstract: School districts’ racial/ethnic and economic compositions are strongly related to average student achievement. Relationships between districts’ demographic compositions and average student growth are much weaker, and many believe growth measures are a more accurate indicator of student learning. We seek to understand if the dissemination of growth data influences individuals’ district preferences in ways that run counter to the conventional wisdom that the “best” districts are the Whitest and most affluent districts. We conduct an online survey experiment in which participants choose between the five largest districts in a metropolitan area. All participants receive demographic data for each district, but some are randomly assigned to receive achievement and/or growth data as well. Providing growth data leads participants to choose less White and less affluent districts. Moreover, providing both achievement and growth data causes participants to choose less White and less affluent districts than the provision of achievement data alone.
Keywords: Survey / growth data / affluent districts / White / choose / average / student

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